For 59.5 minutes on Monday afternoon, the Phoenix Coyotes dominated the action with the Dallas Stars everywhere except on the score board. For a team that couldn't control the puck at all in the season opener, the Coyotes controlled the pace of play with a good cycle game and tenacious forecheck. Unfortunately, after securing a 1-0 lead on a Radim Vrbata power play goal, the Coyotes just could not hold on in that final minute as a shot from the point got deflected past Mike Smith by Loui Eriksson and forced extra time.
The Coyotes had opportunities in overtime as they had a power play opportunity early, but Kari Lehtonen stood tall throughout (as he had most of the night, making 39 saves) and forced the game to the shootout. With another goal from Eriksson and a pretty move from Mike Ribeiro, what looked like two points for the Desert Dogs became two points for Dallas and only one for Phoenix.
Shane Doan, celebrating his 35th birthday had a goal in the shootout and an assist on the Vrbata goal to continue his strong start to the season. Mike Smith turned aside 24 of 25 shots and looked very solid between the pipes. The defense was generally tighter and the Coyotes looked like a much more formidable opponent than they had just two days earlier in San Jose. While 29 more seconds of solid defensive play would've secured the win and the shutout for Smith, hopefully this will put to rest any talk that Smith isn't cut out to be a starter in the NHL as he has looked stellar for his past 4 periods.
Notes from the game after the jump along with our Five For Winning answers, 3 stars and comment of the night...
Bullet Point Notes From the Game:
- Good to see Ray Whitney in midseason form making creepy faces to the camera during the pregame interview with Adrian Aucoin and Todd Walsh.
- Coyotes are coming out night and day better than they looked in San Jose. Forecheck is creating problems for Dallas getting out of their zone. Strong shifts from Mikkel Boedker and Patrick O'Sullivan early creating some pressure, if not necessarily a scoring chance.
- Coyotes will get the first power play opportunity as Steve Ott goes to the box for hooking.
- Coyotes still have some issues with puck entry, but they seem to have a better plan once they are in the zone. Got a few decent chances, but Kari Lehtonen was more than up to the challenge.
- After a great pinch by David Schlemko, Boedker feed Torres right in front of Lehtonen all alone, but he is able to make the glove save.
- Martin Hanzal takes a clumsy high sticking penalty coming back into the zone and the Stars will go on the man advantage.
- Michael Ryder with a great opportunity from between the circles, but Mike Smith makes a great save to keep us scoreless.
- Team exchange some penalties - too many men on Dallas, goaltender interference on Taylor Pyatt (questionable) and a tripping call on Shane Doan.
- Coyotes outshoot the Stars 11-7 in the opening frame which is an improvement enough, but we are still scoreless in Dallas.
- Petteri Nokelainen - Raffi Torres - Boedker are creating some good chemistry in their cycle game. Noki fanned on a feed from Boedker behind the net.
- Doan went circling around the net and had Lehtonen in no-man's land, but had nowhere to move the puck.
- Rostislav Klesla takes some cross-checks from Brendan Morrow and the two of them get into a fight that Morrow wins, but he takes the extra 2 and the Coyotes are back on the man advantage.
- Coyotes can't do anything with the man advantage and Keith Yandle takes a penalty for high sticking...only 4 d-men on the bench so it should be an interesting kill.
- Good pressure being put on by the Coyotes again, but Langkow puts a rebound over the net.
- Quote from Tyson Nash: "You can’t get a greased beebee past either of these goalies right now."
- After two scoreless periods, the Coyotes are ahead in shots 25-17.
- Aucoin gives the puck up and then gets beat up the ice; Jamie Benn doesn't make the pass on the 2-on-1 though and shoots it far wide of the net.
- Vernon Fiddler takes a hooking penalty and the Coyotes are going back on the power play.
- On the penalty kill, Steve Ott makes a play in the corner to get a streaking Stars player untouched, but Smith makes the diving save and then Ott can't convert the rebound.
- Stars take another too many men penalty and the Coyotes get a cheapy as a one-timer from Doan gets bounced around and Hanzal puts it right in front to Radim Vrbata who buries it into the empty net. 1-0 Coyotes!
- Derek Morris gets called for another holding penalty as he takes his hand off his stick and takes down his man...this is just too easy a call for the refs as much as it seems like a bad call.
- Excellent PK by the Coyotes and then Doan and Whitney have a solid rush up the ice that eventually leads to a Yandle one-timer that is stopped by Lehtonen.
- Just 6:29 left and the Coyotes take a too many men penalty...HUGE kill
- Boyd Gordon has the best opportunity shorthanded during the kill and we are under 4 minutes to go after the kill. Unfortunately, Coyotes get called for another penalty as Aucoin goes for hooking with the Stars embellishment. Another HUGE kill coming.
- And Ott negates the power play by taking a hooking call in the offensive zone, so it's 4-on-4 action.
- With Lehtonen on the bench, Sheldon Souray blasts a one-timer from the point that is deflected on the way in by Loui Eriksson and gets past a well-screened Mike Smith. Not the way you want to give up a tying goal. 1-1 and heading to OT.
- Hanzal does a great job forcing the issue and draws a penalty on Morrow in the OT.
- Coyotes get a ton of pressure and a few good shots with the man advantage, but can't get anything in the net.
- Coyotes had the better of the play in OT, but can't score and we are heading to the shootout. Final shot totals; Coyotes 40 - Dallas 25; much, much, much better.
- Shootout goes to Dallas as they get goals from Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro; Shane Doan is the only goal scorer for the Coyotes.
Five For Winning
1. Stay outta the box, particularly the defensemen. The Coyotes defense took five penalties on opening night; it's not gonna be pretty if they do that again. Coyotes continued their steady course to the box, with seven penalties on the night, although the PK stood tall throughout.
2. Take the play to Dallas at even strength. The Coyotes aren't generally stalwart special teams players, and they did almost nothing in San Jose 5-on-5. This needs to improve quickly. Coyotes couldn't put an even strength goal in the net, but the offensive pressure was light year's better than in the first game.
3. Mike Smith redemption. The fifteen saves in the third period was a step in the right direction and showed the promise that the coaches see in him. Smith had a very good night until that last goal (and even considering that one). He made 24 saves on 25 shots. Can't fault him for not making saves in the shootout, that's just going to happen.
4. More grit. Expect to see a few more minutes of Paul Bissonnette and his fourth line mates, particularly if the Coyotes can keep this one close. Gritty play will be a staple for this team to be successful. BizNasty was a healthy scratch, but the grinders were mixing it up a bit better with Nokeleinen and Torres leading the charge with a strong cycling game and you saw players like Klesla and Oliver Ekman-Larsson not shrinking from playing physical.
5. Give up less shots. It will be almost unthinkable for the Coyotes to not achieve this, what with 52 shots given up in the first game. Cutting that number in half this afternoon would go a long way towards helping the team pick up their first win. They cut the number just about exactly in half allowing 25 total shots. Although they couldn't secure the win, it was a lot better.
Our Three Stars
1. Kari Lehtonen - Coyotes didn't create endless scoring chances, but of the 40 shots on net, a number were good opportunities and Lehtonen was up to the challenge. His save on Vrbata in the shootout was possibly his most impressive as we've seen that shot beat goalies time and time again.
2. Mike Smith - a real nice bounce-back performance for Smith who probably deserved the shutout and the win. I'm sure Klesla would like the opportunity to go back and clear out the front of the net better to stop that shot from getting through.
3. Mike Ribeiro - what the heck was that move?!? There were a number of players that played better for the entire game probably, but with the game on his stick, that move was sick.
Comment of the Night
Coyotes get a few days off to work on things in practice before they finish up this road trip in Nashville on Thursday evening. The Predators have started the season with two wins and their typically stout defense led by Pekka Rinne. I would anticipate another low-scoring affair; hopefully the Coyotes will be able to hold on to that one for a win.